Travis Longing to Make the Team

Posted: June 29th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 33 Comments »

One player who generated some buzz in the OTAs is OLB Travis Long. I’ll go ahead and make the obligatory “it’s not real football” disclaimer just so we can get that out of the way. No one is trying to put Long in the Hall of Fame. He’s just a young player that looked better this spring than he did last summer.

Let’s get some background on Long first. He was a DE at Washington State for 3 years. The Cougars shifted to the 3-4 in his Senior season so he got to play some OLB and some DE. While not a dynamic pass rusher, Long had 20.5 career sacks. He tore his ACL in November of 2012 and that kept him from getting drafted.

The Eagles signed him in the summer of 2013. He didn’t have a chance to work in the OTAs or minimcamp. Long was thrown straight into action in Training Camp. He wasn’t all the way back from his knee injury and he was learning the defense on the fly. Long didn’t make a serious push for a roster spot, but showed enough that the Eagles did put him on the practice squad.

I went back and check my notes from the preseason games. Long played the run well. He was physical at the point of attack. He had a couple of sacks, but they came more from effort than any special burst. This summer Long is back at 100 percent. The question is whether he has enough speed to be an effective pass rusher in the NFL.

“He’s really improved,” coach Chip Kelly said. “He has really made some great strides and is a guy that’s really pushing hard to make this football team. I think he’ll be able to contribute from a special-teams standpoint, obviously adding some depth at the outside linebacker spot. So he’s definitely a guy you have to keep an eye on right now.”

Zack Berman offered some more info on Long.

Long’s body lives up to his surname, and he has filled his 6-foot-4 frame with 255 pounds – 15 more than last July, when the Eagles signed him as an undrafted rookie during training camp. Long was still recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He was hurt in November 2012, keeping him out of the predraft process.

Kelly mentioned Long as a player he was eager to see before the team reported in April. When general manager Howie Roseman spoke before the draft about the team’s search for edge rushers, he singled out Long as someone “in the building who can do the job.”

Long, who played in a 3-4 defense during his senior year in college, worked on his pass drops with outside linebackers coach Bill McGovern before each game last season. He had 91/2 sacks as a senior at Washington State, but Long pointed to his 42 tackles for losses in his college career as evidence of his all-around game. He said he pursues the ball, not just the quarterback.

Long has worked behind Connor Barwin and Trent Cole, and is able to play both outside linebacker spots. During Tuesday’s practice, he was seen rushing with his hand in the ground, dropping into coverage, and setting the edge.

“I don’t think I’m making too many mistakes,” Long said. “I’m being where I’m supposed to be. That’s kind of one of the main things that they’re pleased with.”

Paul Domowitch also wrote about Long.

The Eagles had just 37 sacks last season. They finished 31st in sacks per pass play. They need players who can get pressure on the quarterback if they’re going to make a serious Super Bowl run. It doesn’t matter whether that pressure comes from a first-round blue blood or an undrafted mutt with an ACL history.

“You’re always looking to add pass rushers,” general manager Howie Roseman said last month. “We’re always going to be looking for those guys.

“We have some young guys that we’re excited to see [develop]. Guys like Travis. He got kind of overlooked because of his knee injury. But we had a chance to watch him [practice] every week last year and get better in his drops. He’s shown the ability to rush the passer in the Pac-12.”

Long was a 4-3 defensive end his first 3 years at Washington State. But the Cougars switched to a 3-4 his last year there and he responded with the best season of his career. Had 13 tackles for losses and four batted passes in addition to those 9 1/2 sacks.

But then he hurt the knee.Long said it took until last November before his injured knee finally felt whole again.

“About the middle of the season last year,” he said. “I was able to do everything prior to that. But I was finally not thinking about my knee a year after [the injury].”

Long benefited from the year on the practice squad. It gave him the opportunity to completely recover from the injury and learn Bill Davis’ defense.

“I got to get a year in the defense and come back this year and know what I was doing,” he said. “It was good.”

From that standpoint, Long has a leg up on first-rounder Smith, who still is trying to get his arms around Davis’ defense.

Long has been working at both the left and right outside linebacker spots in the spring OTAs and this week’s mandatory minicamp.

“They just want to make sure I can play multiple positions,” he said. “That’s good for me. I want to show them I can do that. It gives me more value than some of these other guys.”

We’ll see what happens when the pads go on. Long could prove to be a try-hard guy that lacks the burst to make it in the NFL. Or he could turn out to be a UDFA steal. Other teams passed on him due to concerns over the knee. The Eagles patience could end up paying off nicely if Long can prove to be a good backup OLB and STs player.

Here is one of Long’s strip sacks from the JAX preseason game last summer.

_


  • Greg Richards

    It seems to me that we have better depth at OLB right now than ILB. Goode is our one solid ILB backup. From what I read it seemed like he got better as OTAs went along, but a few media guys mentioned at the beginning of OTAs that Jason Phillips looked really slow. I wonder if Long could be cross-trained at ILB and go with only 3 true ILBs to start the season until Knott comes off suspension. Kind of like how we went with only 3 OLBs last year with Matthews as the emergency guy.

    • TommyLawlor

      I’m curious to see if Phillips looks quicker/faster in TC or if he still isn’t all the way back from the ACL.

      • GEAGLE

        Yeah that’s going to be important to see, considering ILB is probably our weakest defensive position in terms of depth..

        When did we get Naje Goode? Did we sign him as a free agent last march, or was he cut by a team in April-June and we picked him up on waivers? Don’t remember when we got him…

        Thinking ILB is def a position we will keep our eyes open for on the waiver wire. This is probably the position I worry the most about in terms of depth. Too many questions, not enough we can bank on…other than Goode,who I believe probably has a good grip on MK’s backup spot. Everyone else has questions that need answering..
        1) Jason Phillips coming back from injury, who knows how he looks when pads come on?
        2) Knott I like, but with so much emphasis on Character and culture, who knows how tolerant Chip is of his suspension. We have been fortunate in Philly that we never really had to deal with too many suspensions. Really sucked to see one of our most promising young backup ILBs get popped
        3) Casey Mathews…defensively, if he hasn’t reached “lost cause” status yet, he is pretty darn close. maybe I’m being too hard on him. But I can’t recall him having too many “moments” last year…. Tom, think it be cool to go back and look a your DGRs last year and see if there is any hope for the kid… In fairness, he was capable on ST, but we made so many ST improvements that he will have to who something as a linebacker to make this team

    • GEAGLE

      Amazing to see how much deeper we are at OLB than last year when we had to pretend Casey’s was our 4th OLB…. Now, we have Long and Braman who are both more OLB than Casey ever was… Camp competition at OLB just be drastically better than last year.
      ..
      Barwin will be comfortable and settled into his role after last year
      Cole and BG will be better than last year. They were just learning the position during last years camp. This year they should be able to really compete
      We added a first round talent to the position, who is experienced playing in a similar role than what we will ask of him
      Long and Braman are both probably OLB upgrades to Casey
      ..
      We have 6 OLBs competing for at most 5 spots.. I suspect we keep 5, with Braman as the 5th, who will also be a key ST contributor..so basically it’s all going to come down to Long vs. BG
      BG comes with some dead money, but odds are, he will sign with a different team at the end of the year.
      ,,,
      The position we probably lack depth at is ILB, so unfortunately I can’t definitively saw we are finally getting rid of the “ugly duckling” Casey Mathews. Lack of depth and ST play is how we justified keeping him this long. Fortunately we are stacked with ST coverage guys, so if Casey is going to make this roster, he will have to earn his spot as a backup on defense..he won’t get to skate by any more on ST play…not when we have some really good ST players on the coverage units:
      maragos
      Braman
      James Casey (lock to make the team)
      Polk was a beast on ST
      Brad Smith
      Nolan carol
      Jaylen Watkins
      Boykin
      Phillips
      Marcus is prob a ST upgrade to BG

      Our ST is too improved for Casey Mathews to make this team, without earning a spot as a backup defender..

  • D3FB

    I went back and watched a tape from Long’s Senior Year. A few takewaways:

    -Strong at the point of attack. Uses his leverage well to be stout against blocks.
    -Gives great effort
    -Not very explosive, but has some pass rush ability and is relentless.
    -Smart player, knows what offense is trying to do and is able to take away some plays because of it.
    -Savvy move to get the sack at the 4:30 mark

    He’s never going to set the world on fire but can become a quality backup and special teams player.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVtju56nqzE

  • shah8

    I appreciate you writing about the hopefuls on the team. Even if it’s filling up the dead period before training camp.

  • Dominik

    You never wish for injuries, but damn, could there be just one important 43 edge rusher get hurt on a competitive so the team is willing to deal a 5th for Graham on a rent and maybe sign him long-term? The long term aspect for 43 teams is often overlooked. We’d never re-sign Graham because he’s no scheme fit, but he has some 43 talent and why shouldn’t 43 teams value that if he does pan out?

    Back to the Eagles: if we get something for Graham we could use Smith and Long as back-ups. That would be fine with me, if Long plays like he played in the OTAs. You could then take Braman as the 9th LB on the 53, for ST. Finding the 4th ILB would be a bigger problem imho. At the moment, there seems to be no stand out.

    • A_T_G

      I wonder if we could give Graham a shot at ILB…

      • Dominik

        Did I miss the joke? Or do I miss the imagination for a pure 43 pass rusher with no cover skills and no movement skills, to sum it up: with no skills besides rushing the passer, to be a ILB?

        Don’t want to be rude, I just don’t see it. Graham and Cole would be the last OLBs I see making that transition.

        • Ark87

          You spent the majority of the post lamenting that graham has no place on this team, hoping someone will trade something for him, then immediately noted we have 4th ILB position that needs to be filled. Just some absurd American humor. I went ahead and upvoted it just so Mrs. ATG would get mad. PS she’s bound to upvote your comment at some point.

          • Dominik

            I know A_T_G jokes a lot. Just didn’t see the joke and even with your explanation, don’t think it’s particular funny. When you talk about the roster, comments like that one from me happen.

            But no offense to A_T_G, he’s pretty funny most of the time (sometimes even hilarious).

          • A_T_G

            No offense taken.

            I know I am not funny enough to succeed every time. If I can make a few people laugh most of the time then I think I am contributing. A few duds are going to happen.

            And I agree, this wasn’t my best work.

          • Dominik

            To be honest, if I would have got the joke, I wouldn’t have commented. Explaining a joke is harsh and rips the fun out of it.

            I really though it was somewhat of a very strange opinion of yours. Now, that doesn’t mean that I think you have strange opinions – I really don’t – but maybe it works your brain a little bit. ;) ;)

          • A_T_G

            That was what I was going for, thanks. And I don’t think the Mrs. Is going to be making an appearance. She complained that she tried a few times but the amount of background knowledge she would need to make a comment that doesn’t than doubt as obviously her is more work than she is willing to put in. Basically, she called us all a bunch of Eagles nerds.

          • Ark87

            BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGE!? Pffff, just make stuff up like the rest of us! Also, trust me, I’m under no illusions that getting into arguments over whether Infeanyi Momah gets cut or makes the practice squad is any better than rolling a D20 or reciting pi to the 30th digit or even being a member of the bronies

          • Dominik

            Didn’t the Mrs. post here a few times? I remember someone called G_T_A calling you not funny. I remembered the name because, hey, it’s the greatest video game ever,

          • A_T_G

            That was someone impersonating her.

      • Sb2bowl

        Maybe we try to get him to switch to the offense, kinda like Clay Harbour last year trying out the defense? Now the questions is (in my mind)- which position could Graham play on our offense? Perhaps we could train him to be a Center? Or as additional depth at both Gueard positions?

        Well, that little “exercise” of mine didn’t last; Graham is a D-End, and I wonder why we didn’t try to bulk him up (like Vinny) so that he could have some power/leverage when facing off against NFL tackles/guards.

        I do remember from last year, when we played Chicago; had the Bears backed up to around the 15/20 yard line. Anyway, we blitzed (think it from our left/the Bear’s right side) leaving Graham in the flat to cover the RB/TE leaking out as the hot read. The QB read the blitz correctly, and though he was under great pressure, he got the ball out of his hand. Now, the only thing that stood between the offensive player of the Bears, and a first down (and much more, possibly a good chunk of yardage) was Brandon Graham, covering in the flat. He made the play, forced the Bears to a 4th down punt, and the game finished out. Wasn’t a “huge” play in the game, but it showed me that while Graham shouldn’t often defend the pass/flat, he can do it (when he must).

        I fully expect him to be gone by the 3rd preseason game, either as a cut or trade. To me, his knee injury, coupled with Wash(the itch, it)burn(s) and the coaching/scheme change, cemented his “memory” in Philly as the player that should have been Earl Thomas III………….. the player that “could have been” so much more.

        • GEAGLE

          Good stuff mate… Can’t disagree. Personally, I would absolutely LOVE to see what BG could do in his second year as an OLB, but I highly doubt I’ll get the opportunity.

          It’s almost a LOCK that he will be playing for someone else this time next year, so how do you cut young players who you have under contract like Travis Long or Braman to keep a one year rental(BG)?
          ..
          If we are being honest, Barwin, Braman, Marcus and Cole are lock to make this roster. So it’s going to come down to Long vs, BG for the 5th OLB spot(which is really two more than we had on the roster last year since we counted Casey as Barwins backup)…
          Normally you could say, a pass rusher like BG for one year is more valuable than a UDFA long beng under contract for two or three more seasons….but in this case, long is probably More valuable than it seems.

          Say we cut Long for instant gratification of an extra pass rusher BG for one season. At the end of the year BG is Gone, AND there is also a good chance of cutting Cole next year when his contract balloons. Braman counts as an OLB, but he is really here to play ST, anything he gives us as an OLB is gravy, so if you don’t keep long, next year you could be left with only:
          Barwin, Marcus and braman(who is prob more ST player than OLB). OLB is hard position to find. They are expensive in free agency and require spending high picks in the draft. You can’t go into next offseason needing two or three new OLBs,..
          ..
          There is probably some chance we could ask Cole to restructure, take a massive pay cut to remain with us a few more years, but this is complicated with spending a first round pick on Marcus and Cole is getting up there in age so how much will he have left after we play another 18-20 games this year?
          ..
          It’s a tough situation because short term BG is an easy decision over Long. But I don’t think we will want to lose Long right now, for the instant gratification BG provides as a 3rd pass rusher…

          And it’s a shame, because it think this could have been his best year as an eagle. You are right tho..the injury, and the dysfunctional coaching ruined this kid as a first round pick… With that said, it probably ends with us watching him play his best ball in a different uniform

        • A_T_G

          Straight ahead power, doesn’t spend a lot of time in the backfield, creates holes in the short zone… sounds like a fullback to me.

          So, let me check the roster, he will have to beat out… oh, that’s right, we don’t do the fullback thing.

          I don’t think he is going to make it.

          • Sb2bowl

            Maybe BG will be the full back we deserve, but not the full back we need?

    • GEAGLE

      Hate to say it…. But if we can’t trade BG, he will be a surprise cut.
      no way we will want to lose a young player like long we control contractually for a few more years over a bad scheme fit who can’t wait to become a free agent at the end of the season,

      Long will make this team!

      • Sb2bowl

        Don’t think it’s going to be a “surprise” to any of us; but then again, most of the As*clown media types for the national publications will be shocked that we gave up on BG so quickly.

        Hey, at least he lasted longer than the fire-fighter did………. speaking of, why didn’t he put out the dumpster fire that was the Miami Dolphins last year? Was he even on their roster?

        I was that we had dead money on the books last year for DW (not Dark Wing)– perfect example of why we should never trust Canadians. (sorry to all of the Canadian visitors on this forum, I mean you no harm!)

  • Ark87

    Gotta say Tommy, I’m impressed. You’ve been putting out articles like a mad man during the dead-time leading up to camp. Single handedly providing everyone stuff to ponder and discuss. Kudos! And thanks, as always!

    • A_T_G

      Ponder? Really? What are you doing, baiting Shah?

  • GEAGLE

    I expect Travis Long to be the reason Brandon Graham is a surprise cut!
    ..
    BG can’t wait to become a free agent at the end of the year. The eagle won’t want to lose a young player like long they contractually control for a few more years just to keep Brandon for one year.

    Long as more experience than BG rushing as BOTH a 3-4 OLB AND 4-3DE which is necessary for eagles OLBs

    Long is versatile enough to play Jack and predator where as BG has only lined up at Predator

    BG played ST last year. doubt it will be hard for Long to provide what we got out of BG on STs…

    If BG had two years left on his deal, this would be a different story, but I absolutely expect Long to make this roster at Brandon Graham’s expense.
    Long is NOT your typical UDFA talent. He is a 3rd to 5th round talent who went Undrafted because of a horribly timed injury. I don’t believe you can put Long on the PS squad. Someone would poach him now that he is a year removed from the injury. Eagles will try and trade BG, hoping some team has injuries at 4-3DE…but if we can’t ultimately trade BG. He will be a surprise cut and Long will make the Roster as our 4th OLB. I expect him to be Coles backup, where as Marcus backs up Barwin….Braman is the 5 OLB, who makes the roster more for his ST ability, and anything we get out of his as an OLB is Gravy!

    Looking forward to seeing second team defense in the preseason:

    ……….Kruger/Villanueva…….Beau Allen/Square………Curry/hart
    Marcus…………….Goode………………………..Jason Phillips………..Long
    Nolan Carrol……………maragos……………Wolf……………….Jaylen Watkins

    Watching the second and third team defense in the preseason should be a lot of fun this year…

  • knighn

    I’ll be fine as Long as Casey Matthews doesn’t make the team again.

  • Formidable

    If this is what Chip had to say about him before the injury, you’d best believe he has a shot to make the squad with improvement from last year.

    “He’s one of the best pass rushers, I think, in this conference,”
    “He’s one of those guys that when you turn the tape on you can’t help by like how hard he plays.”
    “No matter where they line him up he’s been productive,”
    “I think he’s one of the better defensive players in the league.”

    http://www.oregonlive.com/ducks/index.ssf/2012/09/oregon_ducks_mindful_of_washin.html

    I also find it interesting that he was compared to Connor Barwin in pre-draft reports (#22).

    http://walterfootball.com/draft2013OLB.php

    • GEAGLE

      Good stuff Mate…hopefully he is back to his pre injury self… The boy can hunt!

    • Dominik

      Wow, very, very interesting. Of course part of it is coaches speak, just like Davis said “Larry Legend is the best WR in this league” last year and two weeks after that, when we played Megatron, who truly is the best, he said “OK, Megatron is the best WR in the league”. But: it speaks for a lot of respect from CK nonetheless. Makes me even want to think that there is a small (but nevertheless) chance he could some day maybe even start in this league.